Officer and deputy cleared in shooting of home invasion suspect
VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. -- A Paw Paw officer and a Van Buren County deputy will not face any charges for shooting a home invasion suspect in February 2021, according to the Van Buren County Prosecutor's Office. The suspect survived the shooting.
Just after 9:30 p.m. on February 18, deputies, Michigan State Police and Paw Paw Police responded to a home on CR 374 to investigate a home invasion.
The suspect, Brad Allen Hirte, allegedly broke into the home, stole a kitchen knife, then used the knife to cut his own wrist.
One of the witnesses who was inside the home when Hirte allegedly entered said she and the others who were inside the home, including two children, were terrified. They ran from the home to get away from him.
When officers and deputies arrived at the scene, the suspect was no longer inside the home.
They began tracking the suspect with the assistance of K9 Bruno, fresh footprints in the snow and a blood trail.
Hirte was tracked to a home on Orchard Lane. Officer Tim McMeekan of the Paw Paw Police and Deputy Dan Rowse, Bruno's handler located Hirte in the driveway, approximately 50 feet away, reports said.
The officers began giving Hirte verbal commands to drop the knife while they attempted to retreat. Hirte began walking towards the two officers with the knife, reports said.
As they retreated, Deputy Rowse slipped and became entangled in the K9's lead and fell to the ground, reports said.
Rowse and McMeekan continued to give Hirte commands to drop the knife but he did not comply and instead continued towards the officers, reports said.
Officer McMeekan then fired one shot at Hirte.
As he fired the shot, McMeekan slipped in the snow, causing his arm to raise. McMeekan was unable to determine whether Hirte was hit.
Hirte came to a sudden stop when the gun fired and then slipped on the snow and fell to the ground, reports said.
McMeekan then told Hirte to stay on the ground and drop the knife.
Rowse got back onto his feet and notified dispatch of shots fired at 9:53 p.m.
Hirte got back on his feet and began walking towards the officers with the knife raised above his head, reports said.
Hirte was just 20 feet from the two officers when they each fired two shots at the suspect. Hirte then fell to the ground.
Reports said a nearby resident witnessed the shooting.
Officers rendered aide to Hirte, who was then transported to Bronson hospital by ambulance.
He was released on March 10.
Following the shooting, Michigan State Police were asked to take jurisdiction of the scene and start an immediate investigation.
Hospital records say Hirte suffered four gunshot wounds to the chest area and one to the upper arm.
Guns seized from the officers showed Rowse fired two shots and McMeekan fired three shots.
Inside Hirte's vehicle, police located a glass pipe with brown resident along with a glass vial with a clear liquid. It was tested and found to be methamphetamine.
Once the investigation was complete, it was turned over to the Van Buren County Prosecutor's Office.
After a thorough review of the evidence, statements and more, the prosecutor determined the deputy and the officer both took actions that were necessary to protect them and others from the danger posed by Hirte.
No charges will be filed in the case.
The prosecutor wrote:
In the case at hand, Officer McMeekan and Deputy Rowse were confronted with the tense, uncertain, rapidly evolving circumstances described the United States Supreme Court in Graham. When Officer McMeekan and Deputy Rowse made contact with Mr. Hirte, both officers repeatedly commanded Mr. Hirte to drop his weapon. Rather than complying with the officers' verbal commands, the suspect quickly advanced toward the officers with a large kitchen knife raised above his head. At that time, Deputy Rowse lost his balance on the snowy drive, and Officer McMeekan was forced to make a "split-second judgment" to protect Deputy Rowse, himself, and the public in general. Graham, 490 U.S. at 396; see also Kise/a 138 S. Ct. at 1152. Officer McMeekan fired a single shot at Mr. Hirte, which did not strike Mr. Hirte, but did cause him to fall to the ground in response.
Notably, when Mr. Hirte fell to the ground, Officer McMeekan did not continue to discharge his weapon. Rather, Officer McMeekan determined that Mr. Hirte no longer "posed an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others." Graham, 490 U.S. at 396. Officer McMeekan's statement reads as follows:
"At this time, although very close to Dep. Rowse and me, Hirte was not currently an immediate threat and I stopped firing and resumed giving verbal commands to 'stay down' and 'drop the knife."' Original Incident Report #50-52-21.
Officer McMeekan's actions directly align with the standards set forth by the Supreme Court, avoiding the use of force and reverting to verbal commands as soon as the suspect no longer posed an immediate threat to Deputy Rowse, himself, or the public. However, Mr. Hirte continued to disobey the officers' verbal commands. Rather than remaining on the ground, Mr. Hirte stood up and continued to advance toward the officers, knife in hand, yelling inaudibly. At this time, the suspect was approximately 20 feet away from the officers. Both officers had an honest and reasonable belief that they were in immediate danger of serious injury or death. Therefore, both Officer McMeekan and Deputy Rowse fired additional shots at the suspect, halting Mr. Hirte's advancement. The actions taken by both officers were immediately necessary to protect themselves and others from the danger posed by Mr. Hirte.